As you ascend gently in one of our hot air balloon rides Napa Valley for an aerial view of the spectacular landscape, imagine that only two and one-half centuries ago, humans were still unsure of the potential effects of rising a few hundred feet into the sky. But as individuals found the experience to be exhilarating, not harmful, the natural instinct of humankind took hold to fly higher, faster, and further without mechanical assistance. Setting records has always been a driving force for many innovators in every field.
Early Hot Air Balloon History
The first-ever non tethered manned hot air balloon flight took place in France in November 1783. Designed by the Montgolfier Brothers, the balloon stayed aloft for twenty-five minutes and flew nearly five miles. The flight reportedly reached a height of about 500 feet (85 meters). The pilots landed successfully but prematurely, worried that the entire structure might ignite.
This flight, by the way, followed a test flight carrying a sheep, a duck, and a rooster presumably to monitor the capacity for living creatures to withstand the rigors of altitude. The flight test was conducted in the presence of the King and Queen of France and lasted eight minutes, reaching an elevation of 1,500 feet. This test flight landed successfully, and the animals survived the experience.
Subsequently, other aviators filled their balloons with hydrogen, controlling their altitude by releasing gases to descend and dropping sandbags to ascend.
Current Records for Hot Air Balloons
As with every other human endeavor, aviators began competing to set endurance and altitude records for balloon flights. One balloon pilot, Jean-Pierre Blanchard, crossed the English Channel in May 1785, only two years after the first human ascension.
Since those early days, hot air balloonists have continually broken and set new records. Such first-time feats as a trans-Atlantic (1978) and transPacific (1991) passages seemed incredible at the time but were accomplished in 1978 and 1991, respectively.
In 1999, two pilots recorded the first non-stop around the world balloon flight.
So, while the ultimate distance records were set, how about altitude?
The current world altitude record for a hot air balloon was established by Vijaypat Singhania on November 26, 2005, at 68,986 feet during his flight over India.
According to Britannia, the highest anyone had piloted a hot air balloon before Singhania’s record-breaking flight, had been in 1988 by Per Axel Lindstrand of Sweden at 64,997 feet.
Crewless balloon flights have achieved altitudes up to 32.2 miles or about 168,000 feet, at least halfway to what is considered outer space.
Napa Valley Hot Air Balloon Rides: No Additional Oxygen Required
Hot air balloons California rides provide a unique aerial perspective and an enjoyable, memorable experience. The professional pilots at Balloons Above the Valley are committed to safety and enjoyable experience, not records. Your Napa Valley hot air balloon ride will drift along quietly at only a few thousand feet to offer the best and most comfortable perspective before drifting gently back to earth.
Even in the winter, a Napa Valley hot air balloon ride is comfortable since each of our hot air balloons comes with a built-in heater to keep everything aloft.
Or phone one of our reservationists at +1-800-464-6824.